Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It is night by Phyllis Rowand, illustrated by Laura Dronzek

This has "toddler bedtime storytime" written all over it. In big letters, naturally.

In rhythmic prose the text asks and answers questions of where the animals sleep at night. Listeners can guess the answers before turning the page and giggle at the sometimes nonsensical answers. An example spread shows a fuzzy white bunny in a blue circle on a bright yellow background "A rabbit, of course, if he has his own way, will go hopping at night and sleep all the day...Where would be a good bed for a rabbit?" Turn the page and see the rabbit nestled deep in the rich greens of a cabbage, "In a cabbage. Except that he would want to eat it. And he couldn't sleep in it and eat it too." In the end, all of the animals, the train, the dolls, all have beds - but do they sleep in them? No, they sleep in the child's bed!

There's a childlike simplicity to the questions and answers and the narration as a whole that is very soothing and connects with both the listener and the reader. The ending is a gentle chuckle rather than an uproarious laugh that ends the story on a sweet note. Dronzek's rich colors and thick, blurred lines are the perfect match for this bedtime story. They make the animals look like comforting toys for a good hug, which indeed they turn out to be.

My only small quibble with this title is that, of the eight animals who are given gendered pronouns, only one is female (the cat). There's no reason the seal, duck or mouse need to be male, other than just naturally falling back on that pronoun. However, that's something I'd have no problem flipping in storytime. This is a new imagining of a classic text, so it's natural that it would have originally emphasized the default pronoun.

Verdict: This is a lovely story, perfect for groups or one on one and an absolute must for any library collection. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780062250247; Published 2014 by Greenwillow; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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